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Briefs

Suspect in massacre offers to plead guilty

– Colorado theater shooting suspect James Holmes has offered to plead guilty and serve the rest of his life in prison to avoid the death penalty – a deal that would bring a swift end to the sometimes wrenching courtroom battle and circumvent a prolonged debate over his sanity.

Prosecutors haven’t said whether they would accept the offer, and victims and survivors of last summer’s massacre were divided on what should be done.

Melisa Cowden, whose ex-husband was killed in the theater, said Wednesday she was resolutely opposed to a plea deal.

“He didn’t give 12 people the chance to plea bargain and say, ‘Let’s see if you’re going to shoot me or not,’ ” said Cowden, whose two teenage daughters were with their father when he was killed. “No. No plea bargain,” she said.

Serial killer’s 1st victim identified

Almost 25 years after her severed head was found on a golf course, the woman whom New Jersey police believe was the first victim of a notorious serial killer has finally been identified.

State police said Wednesday that Heidi Balch is believed to be the first of 17 women killed by Joel Rifkin during a four-year spree that ended in 1993 when he was pulled over for a missing license plate with a dead women’s body in the back of his pickup.

Rifkin was eventually sentenced to more than 200 years in prison for the killings. But Balch’s identity remained a mystery for more than two decades.

State Police Sgt. Stephen Urbanski said Balch’s parents didn’t initially list her as a missing person, and Balch, who worked as a prostitute in New York City, used numerous aliases and Social Security numbers.

Cyberattack hits anti-spam group

A record-breaking cyberattack targeting an anti-spam watchdog group has sent ripples of disruption coursing across the Web, experts said.

Spamhaus, a site responsible for keeping ads for counterfeit Viagra and bogus weight-loss pills out of the world’s inboxes, said it had been buffeted by the monster denial-of-service attack since mid-March, apparently from groups angry at being blacklisted by the Swiss-British group.

Denial-of-service attacks overwhelm a server with traffic – like hundreds of letters being jammed through a mail slot at the same time.

No class-action suit against Comcast

The Supreme Court turned away a class action lawsuit against cable provider Comcast Corp. in a decision that could make it harder to file those types of lawsuits in federal court.

The high court Wednesday overturned a lower court decision to certify as a class those customers who say the company’s monopoly in the Philadelphia area allowed it to raise prices unfairly.

Justice Antonin Scalia said in a 5-4 decision that to warrant class certification, the customers need to be able to show that they can tie a single theory of how they were harmed to a specific calculation of damages.

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